Strong growth in local products has helped deliver a solid set of results for the East of England Co-op, although general food sales have declined.
The group has announced turnover of £342.1m for the year 2014/15, up by £0.2m on the previous year, while pre-tax profit increased 3% to £6.9m.
Food store sales dropped by 1.3%, driven by a change in shopping habits and decreasing sales at the retailer’s larger stores.
However, sales of ‘Sourced Locally’ products rose by 22% to a total of £14.6m, proving that the Co-op’s local sourcing strategy “continues to thrive”. It currently works with 140 local producers across East Anglia.
Doug Field, executive officer Finance & Technology at the East of England Co-op, said: “This year we have continued to face a highly challenging marketplace, especially across our food businesses with the change in shopping habits of our consumers and increased competition from the discount stores.
“Against such a backdrop it is an even more significant achievement that we have increased our overall turnover and profits before tax and distributions again this year.
“Being a sustainable retailer is never easy especially in an increasingly competitive sector, but we are immensely proud of the success we have achieved with our Sourced Locally partners and we will be looking to expand our range of fresh and locally sourced produce again this year.”
The East of England Co-op has over 200 trading outlets across Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk.